Mauricio Pochettino has found an ally in Peter Bosz after the Paris Saint-Germain boss was snubbed in nominations for a Ligue 1 coach of the year award.

Lyon boss Bosz said Pochettino's PSG have produced "a very good season" and commended Pochettino for his work in Paris, where he led a star-studded team to title success.

The French players' union, UNFP, revealed nominees this week for the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 prizes.

Pochettino did not make the five-man shortlist for the Ligue 1 coach award, which instead was made up of Christophe Galtier (Nice), Bruno Genesio (Rennes), Antoine Kombouare (Nantes), Jorge Sampaoli (Marseille) and Julien Stephan (Strasbourg).

Galtier won the award last year when he led Lille to the league title, pipping PSG, but this year has been a procession, with Pochettino's team 14 points clear of second-placed Marseille with three games remaining.

Bosz said of Pochettino: "Of course he has the best individual players, but in my opinion to build a team is the hardest thing at this club.

"He's a good coach. He's champion of France with the best players certainly, but you can't be champion all the time. His job is the most difficult in our championship.

"They've been champions since October, that's clear. They've always been ahead. They've produced a very good season."

PSG were knocked out of the Coupe de France by Nice on penalties in January, and saw their Champions League challenge ended in March by Real Madrid, who came back from 2-0 down on aggregate deep into the second leg of their last-16 tie to win 3-2 overall, setting the tone for the Spanish giants' dramatic run to the final.

By winning only two major trophies – this season's Ligue 1 and last term's Coupe de France – Pochettino has faced speculation over whether PSG intend to keep him at the helm.

While Pochettino was not included in the UNFP nominations, and nor were Neymar and Lionel Messi, PSG do have some representation ahead of the May 15 Trophees du Football ceremony.

Kylian Mbappe has been nominated as a contender for player of the year, Gianluigi Donnarumma is on the goalkeeper of the year shortlist, and teenage left-back Nuno Mendes features in the five-man pool for the young player of the year honour.

Lionel Messi poses such a danger that Lyon have revealed they will "play hard" to stop Paris Saint-Germain's superstar in Sunday's Ligue 1 showdown.

Lyon head coach Peter Bosz spoke of his admiration for Messi but warned that his team would ditch the niceties during the evening game at the Parc des Princes.

After scoring five goals in six Champions League games against Lyon during his long Barcelona career, Messi is now a rival at a domestic level after his shock Camp Nou departure.

A cameo against Reims before the international break was followed by a first full 90 minutes in the midweek Champions League draw with Club Brugge.

Now Messi appears likely to make his first Ligue 1 start as Lyon head to the capital, where they have won only once in their last 13 league away games (D2 L10). Intriguingly, however, that win came in their most recent visit, a 1--0 victory last December.

Bosz, the former Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen boss, said watching Messi on television used to be appointment viewing early in his career, and he will hope the hours spent studying his performances can help when it comes to stopping the Argentina captain.

"I think we have to defend collectively against Messi," Bosz said. "I have watched many, many, many of Messi's games. I only stayed home to watch him when I was at Heracles, a small club in Holland. We watched all his games with my staff.

"It will be a pleasure to meet him. And it would make me even happier if we win against him. It won't be easy. He is a player with extraordinary qualities and only as a team can you play against Messi. Alone, it's not possible.

"First of all, you have to have respect for him. You have to have respect for all the players, and therefore for him too.

"But you have to play hard against him, of course. If you are too polite, he will dribble past you. You have to be tough against him but with respect."

It will be Messi's first home game for PSG, assuming he plays, and it remains to be seen who else might feature in the frontline.

Kylian Mbappe was forced off early in the second half against Brugge with ankle trouble, but PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said on Saturday that the forward had been able to train since that blow.

That raises the prospect of Mbappe perhaps being involved on Sunday, which is something Lyon would hope to avoid.

The 22-year-old World Cup winner has scored eight goals against Lyon in Ligue 1. Only against Dijon has he scored more in the French top flight, netting 11 times against the team that finished bottom of the table last term.

Mbappe reached the career landmark of 100 Ligue 1 goals when he scored twice in PSG's 4-2 win over Lyon in March.

Peter Bosz has vowed to bring "attacking and attractive football" to Lyon after signing a two-year deal to become the Ligue 1 club's head coach.

The former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund boss was most recently with Bayer Leverkusen and replaces Rudi Garcia at the Lyon helm.

He takes over a club that finished fourth last season, just missing out on Champions League qualification, and the 57-year-old is eager to make his mark at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

"I am very happy to be here, in a great club," he said at a news conference on Sunday, with his appointment having been confirmed the day before.

"I have a philosophy: to produce attacking and attractive football, because we play for the supporters, not for ourselves. But obviously, it depends on the players in the squad. I prefer technical and intelligent players."

Bosz leant heavily on youth talent at Ajax, where he reached the Europa League final in 2017, and would not hesitate to take a similar approach in his new role, which will formally begin on July 1.

"At Ajax, like at Lyon now, it was important to play the youngsters," he said. "But it does not just depend on the age: I am not scared to give young players a chance and to put faith in them. They have the qualities. At Leverkusen for example, I gave Florian Wirtz a chance when he was just 16.

"In the Netherlands, it was said that the team started seasons slowly and finished strongly. In Germany, I was told that the team started strongly and finished slowly. What I want, in France, is to start and finish strongly.

"I am heading back for two more weeks of holiday, but I will of course remain in contact with Juninho to talk about the players, pre-season, the way of working. I will be thinking a lot about Lyon."

Bosz was sacked by Leverkusen in March and replaced on an interim basis by former Stuttgart boss Hannes Wolf, having endured a run of four wins in 18 matches in all competitions.

Peter Bosz has signed a two-year deal to become Lyon's new head coach after the departure of Rudi Garcia.

Former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund coach Bosz was most recently with Bayer Leverkusen and will take the reins at Lyon on July 1.

The 57-year-old fills the void left following Garcia's decision to leave the Ligue 1 club this month, having guided them to fourth spot this season.

Bosz led Ajax to the Europa League final in 2017, beating his new employers in the semi-final, before a brief and disappointing spell with BVB.

He was sacked by Leverkusen in March and replaced on an interim basis by former Stuttgart boss Hannes Wolf, having endured a run of four wins in 18 matches in all competitions.

Lyon lost to Nice on the final day of the French season to miss out on Champions League qualification.

The club confirmed the appointment on their website, adding that club president Jean-Michel Aulas, football general manager Vincent Ponsot and sporting director Juninho would join Bosz in a news conference on Sunday.

Lyon said the quartet would "clarify the new parameters of the team's technical organisation and explain what they will expect from the entire first team, as this commencement of a new cycle will give an added dimension to Olympique Lyonnais' ambitious project, both domestically and in the Europa League".

Bayer Leverkusen have sacked head coach Peter Bosz and appointed former Stuttgart boss Hannes Wolf as his replacement until the end of this season.

A 4-0 win over Cologne in mid-December saw Leverkusen go top of the Bundesliga, but their form has collapsed since, with just four wins in their subsequent 18 matches in all competitions.

That prolonged slump has taken in a 6-3 aggregate defeat to Young Boys in the Europa League, which followed a humiliating exit from the DFB-Pokal at the hands of fourth-tier Rot-Weiss Essen in early February.

Following the 3-0 weekend defeat to Hertha Berlin, a result that left Leverkusen sixth in the table, Bosz expressed confidence that he would remain in his post.

However, the club's board had other ideas.

"In view of the development of football in recent weeks, we have come to the conclusion that the separation from Peter Bosz can no longer be avoided," said sporting director Rudi Voller in a statement. 

"The 3-0 defeat at Hertha on Sunday was unfortunately characteristic, our team has recently fallen into the same pattern over and over again. 

"We haven't been able to put an end to the repetitive mistakes and get back on the road to success. 

"After a factual and very open analysis of the sporting situation, we therefore agreed to make a change, despite the great appreciation for Peter Bosz."

Former Ajax head coach Bosz had done much to rehabilitate his reputation at Leverkusen having endured a nightmare half-season in charge of Borussia Dortmund in 2017-18.

A year later, in December 2018, he took over at the BayArena and inspired an upturn that resulted in Champions League qualification.

Leverkusen narrowly missed out on the top four last term, although they appeared to have put the loss of key man Kai Havertz to Chelsea behind them this time around before their post-Christmas disintegration.

Assistant coaches Hendrie Kruzen and Rob Maas and fitness coach Terry Peters have also been relieved of their duties, giving Wolf a surprise opportunity to prove himself again at Bundesliga level.

The 39-year-old was appointed Germany Under-18s coach after his dismissal by Belgian club Genk earlier this season.

Wolf amassed a 46 per cent win ratio when at Stuttgart between September 2016 and January 2018.

He then took charge of Hamburg during the 2018-19 season but was unable to lift the fallen giants out of 2. Bundesliga.

"I am very pleased with the trust that has been placed in me, because Bayer 04 is not just any club for me," Wolf said.

"Leverkusen has been one of the most attractive places in German football for many years. There is a highly ambitious environment here and a very talented, exciting team. 

"We all have opportunities to get into the European positions. It's up to us to get the maximum out of the remaining eight games."

Wolf will be assisted by veteran former Leverkusen player and coach Peter Hermann.

Peter Bosz admitted there were no excuses for Bayer Leverkusen's shock DFB-Pokal defeat at Rot-Weiss Essen, declaring: "We must never lose here."

After holders Bayern Munich were stunned by Holstein Kiel in the previous round, Essen produced another cup shock as they overcame Bundesliga opponents with a 2-1 triumph after extra time on Tuesday.

The first goal of the tie did not arrive until the 105th minute, Leon Bailey's low shot eventually edging dominant Leverkusen - who had 27 attempts and 69.2 per cent of possession - in front.

However, the hosts hit back to level through Oguzhan Kefkir and, just as a penalty shoot-out appeared to be necessary to decide who would progress, Simon Engelmann struck a dramatic winner three minutes from the end.

The upset means that for the second time in as many seasons, a fourth-tier side will be in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Head coach Bosz did offer praise for Bayer's opponents but was critical of his own players for failing to see out the game once they had taken the lead.

"We played against a good team, you have to say that. But we must never lose here," Bosz told Sky Sports Germany.

"We had the chances, especially in the second half. The opportunities were there. Then we take the lead in extra time and can play the game out. Don't give up our position. That's our mistake.

"We are a Bundesliga team and we must never lose here. Never."

It is the sixth time Essen have made it to the last eight in the DFB-Pokal, though this is the first occasion since the 1993-94 season. They have lifted the trophy once before in their history, back in 1953.

"You can't write a better script for a game like this. We're really proud of the boys," coach Christian Neidhart said, according to Kicker.

Kai Havertz was dubbed the 'Crown Prince of German football' while at Bayer Leverkusen but the Bundesliga club have a new star now: Florian Wirtz.  

While his former club colleague has struggled so far to make an impact at Chelsea, Wirtz - the latest young gem to come through at Leverkusen - is dazzling for Peter Bosz's team, who remain ensconced in the top four despite defeats either side of the mid-season break in Germany's top flight. 

The 17-year-old did not wait long to suggest he could be the heir apparent, either. Having made his debut in May 2020, he became the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history the following month, finding the net in a 4-2 defeat to Bayern Munich after coming on as a substitute. Youssoufa Moukoko has since snatched that record away.

This season, Wirtz has gone from the periphery to centre stage, scoring twice and providing four assists in 13 appearances. His transition from promising talent to first-team regular has been swift, leading to comparisons to Havertz, the playmaker who swapped the BayArena for Stamford Bridge.

However, for Bosz, while both players have huge potential, the duo differ in so many ways.

"I never compare players with each other because that is impossible. There is no player like the other," Bosz told Stats Perform News. "You can't compare them. That's not possible.

"I also won't do that with Florian Wirtz, because he has his own style. He is different from Kai Havertz, who is more of a striker. Florian Wirtz, as far as I am concerned, is a midfielder, so you can't compare them.

"Also, you can't compare them physically; Kai is 1.92metres (6ft 3in), Florian is shorter. One is left-footed, the other one right-footed. They both have their own style. But both of them are very good. Both are very talented. Both have a huge career ahead of them.

"And Florian is only 17 years old. What he has shown though in the Bundesliga already is something special."

Wirtz has been a part of a Leverkusen squad that has impressed so far in this campaign, both at home and abroad. 

Despite a first defeat to Bayern Munich before the mid-season pause in Germany, Leverkusen gathered 28 points from their opening 13 league games. Only three times have they managed to collect more points across the same period - and on each of those occasions they went on to finish in the top four.

In the Europa League, Die Werkself finished top of Group C to qualify for the last 32 in style, winning five of their six round-robin fixtures. Having reached the quarter-final stage of the competition last year, when they lost 2-1 to Inter, hopes are high they can go further this time around. 

But while there has been much to please Bosz and Leverkusen's supporters so far, the Dutch coach insists there is still plenty more to come from his squad.

"Everyone still has some space to improve," he said, insisting no player has reached a nine out of 10 yet. "The difference to last year is that we are very consistent now.

"We deliver stable performances. It means that we concede less goals. We stand more compact on the pitch.  

"But we have also lost important players. Kai Havertz went to Chelsea, Kevin Volland to Monaco. I think that our team spirit has improved. This is the biggest step ahead." 

Despite Havertz no longer being around, Leverkusen have been excellent going forward, with champions Bayern the only team to score more in the Bundesliga so far. Their attacking intent has not come at a considerable cost defensively either - only second-placed RB Leipzig have conceded fewer goals.

The emergence of Wirtz has been one of the factors in helping Leverkusen continue to progress as a club, even with those key departures in the previous transfer window.

 

"He's a very talented young player. He has a lot more to improve. But, you know, he's only 17," Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey told Stats Perform News about his talented young team-mate.

"He's still learning. But he has a lot of qualities that a lot of older players don't have yet. And that's something you can see clearly, and this is something that's special. 

"And I think, as the years go by, he will only get better. There is a lot more to come from him, as he understands more and get a lot more experience.  

"I would say he's very smart. He has a lot of quality when he's on the ball. And he has a great passing ability."

Bailey's assessment is backed up by Wirtz's output, with no Leverkusen player having created more chances from open play than his tally of 23. While his passing accuracy is perhaps lower than might be hoped for at 73 per cent, his touches in the opposing box (31) and passes into the final third (55) are examples of his forward thinking when in possession. 

Those risks have reaped their rewards this term too, considering his six goal contributions so far. Bosz clearly has faith in him, as only goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky and Moussa Diaby have played more minutes in the Bundesliga so far. 

Any suggestion of becoming the new Havertz may be wide of the mark, but the future looks bright for Wirtz, the latest jewel to emerge at Leverkusen. 

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